Tag Archives: earthtone9

Live Review: earthtone9 and Dorje at The Camden Underworld 9/9/16

DORJE
dorje

It becomes instantly apparent why Dorje have been chosen as main support for this earthtone9 show. The band deal in the same sort of groovy proginess that earthtone9 do, but there’s more of a focus on melodic rock rather than punishing heaviness. Dorje have a really robust and well-rehearsed sound that often reminds us of Coheed and Cambria and they play an extremely tight set that warms up the audience well. The only real negative I noticed is that the band are a little static in their performance, but thankfully they make up for this by being extremely accomplished song-writers. That Rob Chapman also has a powerful set of lungs on him.

EARTHTONE9
earthtone9

Playing a career-spanning set that includes songs from every single earthtone9 release to date, this is an incredibly special performance from the underappreciated alt metal giants. It’s really quite rare to see earthtone9 on the stage again, but here they are 20 years since they first started. What’s really quite impressive is how varied earthtone9’s music is. We move from the weirdo progressive metal leanings of their first two albums to the more streamlined, almost Deftones-esque alt metal of arc’tan’gent and then we also get the more melodic rock stylings of Amnesia from the omega EP and then we’re right up to date with the groovy, Mastodon-esque sound of For Cause and Consequence and IV. What’s really striking is just how monstrous earthtone9’s early material sounds thanks to the wonderfully robust sound at the Underworld. I couldn’t help but think how good a modern remaster of lo-def(inition) discord would sound like if it had this sort of power. earthtone9 put on a legendary performance that does their amazing back catalogue justice and I really hope we continue to see more music from them because they really are one of the UK heavy music scene’s most precious treasures.


Review: Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Split 7″

American desert rockers Karma to Burn have joined forces with Kent prog rockers Sons of Alpha Centauri and the result is a double dose of instrumental rock that’s big on groove and not much else.

KARMA TO BURN
ktb

Karma to Burn’s contribution is a spacey, 4 minute track called Six that hammers home a pretty satisfying groove but does little else to hold your attention. The track ends up playing out like a very long album opener which would be fine if the band had a stronger track to follow it up but they don’t as each band on this split only contributes a single track.

4 minutes, one riff; that’s all you’re getting. Fingers crossed Sons of Alpha Centauri have a little more to offer because this is an inconsequential opening on a 7” that costs seven of your British pounds.

5/10

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI
soac

Sons of Alpha Centauri thankfully put forward a song that has a little more meat on its bones. Their contribution is a song called 66 (get it? Six66? GROAN) and the song is a somewhat proggier affair than Karma to Burn’s effort. The off kilter guitar work brings back memories of classic earthtone9 which is certainly a compliment compared to Karma to Burn who brought on feelings of boredom.

Unfortunately while this composition actually bothers to move and progress into different riffs, the band’s sound really needs something else. The instrumentation just isn’t interesting enough to hold your attention without any vocals and this is where Sons of Alpha Centauri fall down. Sons of Alpha Centauri are making the sort of alternative rock that bands like Tool have been so successful with, but while bands like that include all the elements needed to flesh out their sound, Sons of Alpha Centauri don’t feel like they have enough in their repertoire to hold your attention.

6/10

Instrumental rock is a difficult genre to deal in because as both bands on this split have proven, missing an element as important as a vocalist can end up making your music sound sparse and uneventful in the process. Both Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri need to spend more time making their music move in interesting and engrossing ways if they are to continue as instrumental acts.

Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s 7” split is out now and available to buy from H42 Records and direct from Sons of Alpha Centauri.


Review: Mongol Horde’s Mongol Horde

Mongol-Horde-COVER

Frank Turner returning to heavy music is a dream come true for a lot of us who were raised on Million Dead, the post hardcore band Turner fronted before he decided to go solo and make folk pop. Turner has been messing around under the Mongol Horde name with fellow Million Dead stalwart Ben Dawson and Sleeping Souls member Matt Nasir for 2 years now and while a few songs have been drip-fed to the public nobody was expecting an album materialise out of thin air. For the unsuspecting public it really felt the way when their debut self-titled album was announced a week before release and the no bullshit approach to announcing the record really suits the music it contains.

Despite being a heavy record, this is a very different beast to Million Dead. Mongol Horde make hardcore punk infused with groove metal and each song is built around a massive down-tuned riff, frantic punk drumming from Dawson and an absolutely furious roar from Turner. This is the sort of album Refused and earthtone9 might make if they ran really fast into each other.

What’s really interesting about the band’s formula is that no real effort has been made to beef up their rather bare-bones sound. Nasir makes up for the lack of bass guitar by tuning his guitar low and running it through the dirtiest fuzzbox he has available. This gives the band a satisfying quiet/loud dynamic that means the verses generally lack bass before it drops into the mix for a massive chorus. It’s simple but amazingly powerful stuff.

Turner has also approached the vocals in a very different fashion. The man almost exclusively uses screams and spoken vocals and there’s more than a touch of humour to Turner’s lyrics. Tapeworm Uprising chronicles the journey of Natalie Portman’s tapeworm as it escapes her body to found a new republic for tapeworms. Blistering Blue Barnacles discusses the career advice Turner was given that lead him to captain his own ship just to satisfy his inferiority. Winkyface: The Mark of a Moron discusses the modern phenomena known as using emoticons instead of actual words to express yourself. It’s beautifully bizarre stuff and despite the almost constant screaming, Turner is incredibly clear and expressive which really engages you in the bonkers scenarios he creates.

The album is superbly consistent with every track being built around a traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure that puts emphasis on Nasir’s enormous riffs and Turner’s aggressive choruses. It’s all tied together by an absolutely relentless display of drumming from Dawson who sounds like he probably got through about ten pairs of sticks per song.

The only real let-down comes in the lack of bass. On occasion the songs feel somewhat lacking without a dedicated bass-line and the furious openings to Casual Threats from Weekend Hardmen and Your Problem are great examples. It’s only a minor complaint as the bass often strikes at the most opportune moments, but you can’t help but imagine how utterly devastating the band would sound if the riffs were bolstered by that extra bit of bass.

Regardless, this is an explosive debut by one of the weirdest bands in heavy music right now. Mongol Horde’s self-titled debut album is equal parts punk and groove and it’s presented as a series of surrealist stories told by Turner that give the band an identity of their own. Welcome back Frank; we’ve missed your unhinged side.

8/10

Mongol Horde’s debut self-titled album is out now and available to buy direct from Xtra Mile Recordings.


Review: Irk’s Bread and Honey

Irk - Bread and Honey - cover

Irk are a rather interesting prospect. The band take the off kilter, palm-muted chaos of djent and mix it with progressive metal in a similar vein to Deftones and earthtone9 and it makes for a sound that is wonderfully unique. The band released their debut EP Bread and Honey back in May and it’s a record that’s seriously worthy of your attention.

The Leeds trio have a sound that is worryingly large for a band so early into their career. Bread and Honey is a quaking beast of an EP stuffed with massive riffs and heart-on-sleeve yelping. There are no verses and choruses to be found on this record and it’s extremely better off for all its progressive leanings.

Irk are a big fan of groove and these bass-heavy riffs pack a serious punch. From the moment the EP starts with its blood-curdling scream and monolithic melody you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. EP opener Care Taker barrels along with all the disjointed twitchiness of a great TesseracT riff but thanks to the raw, thrashy fury of the drum work it comes across with more of a mathcore vibe and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.

What also helps Irk’s music is their appreciation for the Deftones’ quiet/loud dynamic. The songs on Bread and Honey often slow down and strip back the intensity to allow for a moment’s respite before the band unleash all hell and blast another huge riff into your face. It’s not the most original trick in the book but Irk know how to use it with masterful devastation like in the middle eight of Mammalian Love March.

Special mention has to be given to the bass because the twangy, funk-laden bass-lines are a huge draw across the entire EP. They bolster the impact of the riffs and add to the raucous energy that the band feed off. Bread and Honey really is a hugely satisfying listening experience.

Special mention also has to be given to the production because unlike the djent bands that Irk are influenced by, someone has seen fit to not give this EP that typical, shiny layer of polish that’s so common on djent releases. Irk are considerably better off sounding raw and aggressive and it really sounds like the band put all their blood, sweat and tears into these recordings. If Bread and Honey was given the clean, glassy production of a TesseracT recording then it simply wouldn’t have the same ball-busting impact.

The only real negative I can throw at this EP is it’s all over in 10 minutes and quite frankly I need more. Irk have whet my appetite for more rollicking, mathcore lunacy and that’s a pretty good indication as to how good Bread and Honey is. You’d be a fool not to give Irk at least 10 minutes of your time. It might be the best 10 minutes you’ve had with heavy music this year.

9/10

Irk’s Bread and Honey is available to download now and at a pay-what-you-want price point directly from the band. You should probably go and get it right now.


Review: City of Ashes’ All We Left Behind

City Of Ashes Cover Artwork

Emo rockers City of Ashes are an interesting prospect. The band often sound like Brand New and Pitchblend wrestling with In Case of Fire but on occasion they throw in a chunky, alt metal riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on an earthtone9 album. ‘All We Left Behind’ is the band’s debut album and it comes pretty late into the band’s career as City of Ashes formed back in 2008.

It’s no surprise then to hear that all that time touring and mastering their craft has allowed the band to deliver an extremely polished album that is superbly crafted and well produced. ‘All We Left Behind’ sounds enormous and it makes songs like ‘Falling Star’ sound absolutely epic. ‘Falling Star’ in particular sounds like the making of a huge radio hit as vocalist Orion Powell belts out an amazing chorus.

Powell’s vocals become the big draw on ‘All We Left Behind’. The man never sounds like he isn’t giving it his absolute best and he impresses with his wide vocal range that allows him to deliver some absolutely soaring high notes. Lead single ‘In Retrospect’ was clearly chosen to showcase Powell’s talent because all the aforementioned elements get their time in the spotlight during that one song.

It’s a shame then that the band lose their way around ‘Sententia’ which marks the beginning of the last third of the album. This isn’t to say the band get any less talented at this point but the songs begin to meander and lack the focus of the first two thirds of the record and even that showcases a bit of what happens after ‘Sententia’. ‘The Highest Point of Living’ in particular simply follows a single guitar melody for the whole song and doesn’t change for the entire 4 minutes. ‘Sententia’ is almost identical in this sense. I don’t quite understand what causes this but it’s almost like the band run out of steam.

There are glimpses of greatness in this last section of the record but it simply isn’t as inspiring as what came before it. ‘Dorian Gray’ certainly has power but it lacks a strong melody. The final two tracks ‘Masks’ and ‘Waves’ feel unfocussed and generally a bit too long for the amount of ideas they’re trying to portray. It’s a bit of a limp ending to what was generally a solid and well crafted record.

‘All We Left Behind’ is an album of two halves. One showcases City of Ashes as an exciting rock band with tonnes of talent, massive choruses and stunning melodies. This side of the band is the one that will see them blow up into one the UK’s biggest bands and with this sort of quality there’s no doubt they’ll make it. But unfortunately there’s a side to the band that isn’t quite sure of what it wants to do and it can create songs that sound rushed and unfocussed. Luckily City of Ashes’ brighter moments outshine their duller moments but there’s definitely still room for the band to improve.

7/10

City of Ashes’ ‘All We Left Behind’ will be released independently by the band on 11th of November. A pre-order isn’t live yet but I’m sure it’ll be live on the band’s Big Cartel soon.


Review: Bovine’s The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire

Bovine are a 4 piece from Birmingham making scuzzy, grungy, up-tempo rock. The band present their debut album The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire and it’s a mental blend of Off Kilter-era earthtone9, later Eighties Matchbox material, Bolton’s To the Bones and fellow Birmingham grungers God Damn.

Having to use so many bands for reference should give you an indication that Bovine are a pretty unique little outfit. The Sun Never Sets… begins with the ambient Barium before kicking down the door and blowing your face off with the raucous Ghost Chair. This song brilliantly sums up what sort of beating you’re going to get over the next half an hour.

The songs are all built on a wild, crashing rhythm section that bolsters the songs while the duel vocal and guitar attack of Marcus Vvulfgang and Thomas Peckett croon and yell over everything. Both men do a rather spectacular job of creating memorable riffs punctuated with some wonderfully atmospheric leads that turn into random chaos when they feel like it. Bovine’s music might sound boisterous but it’s structured flawlessly, flows magnificently and not a single moment feels jarring to listen to.

No other song manages to encompass Bovine’s dynamic quite like Heroes are What? The song starts with a dissonant, acoustic intro before launching into the album’s best riff. The song is completed with a brilliant vocal melody that develops into harsher moments when it needs it. Heroes are What? is pure rock perfection.

Bovine’s The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire is an exciting, brash and surprisingly interesting record that manages to balance its’ visceral elements with excellent melodies. The whole record flows naturally from one song to the next and offers one of the most solid listening experiences a rock fan could ask for. Bovine have put together a stunning debut which sets the bar for the rest of their career extremely high. No pressure or anything lads.

9/10

Bovine’s The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire is available to buy on CD and vinyl from the band now.


Touring: earthtone9

Alt-metallers earthtone9 have a couple of cracking festival dates lined up for this Summer in support of their brilliant new album IV.

A rather special performance is also scheduled for ArcTanGent festival which sees the band performing their seminal arc’tan’gent album in full.

See below for the list of dates:

June 13 – The Albert, Brighton (Download warm-up show
June 15 – Download Festival, Donnington, Pepsi Max Stage
August 29th – ArcTanGent Festival, Somerset (performing arc’tan’gent in full)


Review: Black Market Serotonin’s Something From Nothing

Where have Black Market Serotonin been hiding all this time? No band should be allowed to have such a unique and accomplished sound and stay off the radar for so long. This Manchester trio appear to have been together since 2008 with their debut single only coming out in 2010. It appears that Black Market Serotonin have been locked away perfecting their craft for quite a long time, but my God has it been worth it.

Black Market Serotonin’s debut album Something From Nothing sounds like earthtone9, Pitchblend and Muse got sexy and had a proggy, space-rock, riff-baby and they fed him synthesisers. We can’t stress enough how beautifully original this record sounds.

The whole thing kicks off with the epic instrumental Singularity which gently starts with some warm electronics before stepping up a notch with some brilliant tremolo picking. The song builds and builds and feels like it’s about to explode before it catches you off guard with a moment of respite. Then the riffs hit and man do they hit.

The album continues in a similar fashion. None of the songs on Something From Nothing stick to a standard song structure and instead favour a progressive flow that twists and turns but continues along a natural path that isn’t jarring to listen to. Vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist Andrew Pimblott commands with his booming voice and does a fantastic job of earthing the band’s sound into something more palatable. His melodies are simple yet memorable which allows the music to go off on interesting tangents without becoming too much of a prog headache.

Stand out tracks include DeadByFiveOClock and Irons in the Fire which deliver the right amount of experimental musicianship coupled with the mightiest of riffs. The first half of the album really succeeds in delivering catchy vocal hooks yet maintaining some down-right engaging and intriguing rock that wouldn’t sound out of place at an arena show.

Unfortunately, Black Market Serotonin get a little too ambitious with their 5 part album title track. That’s right, 5 parts. Muse’s Exogenesis symphony is now quivering in fear. While certain parts of the song still showcase the band’s truly epic prog rock, other parts feel like filler for the sake of filler. Part 4 in particular is 4 minutes of a single hook that never progresses into anything else. It just feels a bit unnecessary.

But really, this is the only negative we can throw at Black Market Serotonin’s Something From Nothing. The band have unleashed some truly epic prog rock that deserves your attention. If there’s any justice in the world, Black Market Serotonin will be playing stadiums and festivals where their music can be truly appreciated on the sort of scale it was made for.

8/10

Black Market Serotonin’s Something From Nothing will be released on CD April 22nd on Super Star Destroyer.


Music Video: earthtone9’s Preacher

Alternative metal legends earthtone9 are gearing up to release their comeback album IV after a successful Pledge Music campaign. The band have just dropped their new music video for the song Preacher which you can view below:

IV is released on April 8th 2013 and can be pre-ordered directly from the band now. Pre-ordering grants you access to the first two songs now.

IV will also be the first album to feature new members Russ Stedman and Gez Walton who replace previous members Joe Roberts and Dave Anderson who are taking a break from the band.


News: Blackstorm Release ‘The Darkness is Getting Closer’ EP

Blackstorm, the groove metal super group featuring ex and current members of Earthtone 9, Twin Zero, Fall of Efrafa, Milk White Throat and Skulldozer have released their new EP ‘The Darkness is Getting Closer’ as a digital download. The EP only costs £3 and a 12″ vinyl release will follow in 2013. Check it out:

Blackstorm currently have no live shows planned, probably due to commitments that other members (mainly Karl and Gez from earthtone9) have with their respective bands.

[Source: Blackstorm’s Facebook Page]